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Gertrude Stein, Gradually

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Gertrude Stein, Gradually




Curate note: Audio Books & Poetry.

Gertrude Stein was the gravitational center of the bohemian art-scene in Paris from around 1907 to 1913. Not herself a graphic artist, her art took the form of jarringly experimental writing, and her social influence outshone her recognition as a writer until much later.

The "Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas" excerpts sound like familiar story-telling, while the other pieces are adaptations of Stein's experimental-language writings, and are near-hallucinatory audio landscapes and textures.

The 'Chef d'Ouvre' is 'Patriarchal Poetry,' which I made last, after learning a lot from doing the others of the 'language-as-music' pieces.

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas is a 1933 autobiography of Gertrude Stein, written by Stein as if she were Alice B. Toklas. This material is actually prose with stories and descriptions, describing life in Paris during the years of transition from Impressionism into Cubism. In chatty, amusing, conversational language we meet Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse, Monet, Seurat, Chagall, Guillame Apollinaire, and many more characters in bohemian Paris.

Clip 5 talks about the origins of Cubism, the psychological comparisons between Americans, Spaniards, and Germans, and all about the philsophical discussions between Gertrude Stein and Pablo Picasso.

1) Are There Arithmetics. [from 'Reflection on the Atomic Bomb'] [6 minutes 40 seconds]

2) My Arrival In Paris [from Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas] [pt. 1, 33 minutes]

3) My Arrival In Paris [from Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas] [pt. 2, 22 minutes]

4) Descriptions of Literature [from Literary Music] [9 minutes, 40 seconds]

5) Francis Rose [from Reflection on the Atomic Bomb] [3 minutes]

6) Matisse and the origins of Cubism [from Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas]
[19 minutes, 36 seconds]

7) Paris, 1907-14 [from Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas] [22 minutes, 58 seconds]

8) Patriarchal Poetry [Excerpts] [from 'Bee Time Vine' 1927] [1 hr, 4 minutes]

9) Portrait of Mabel Dodge at Villa Curonia [from 'A Primer for the Gradual Understanding of Gertrude Stein'] [16 minutes]

10) Preciosilla [from 'Composition as Explanation' 1926] [3 minutes, 54 seconds]

11) Study Nature [from 'Bee Time Vine' 1914] [1 minute 34 seconds]

12) Susie Asado [from 'Geography and Plays' 1922] [2 minutes 17 seconds]

13) First Example [from 'Syntax and Elucidation' 1923] [5 minutes 45 seconds] a Rose is a Rose is a Rose


From Wiki

"An early catalyst to Gertrude Stein's fame was Mabel Dodge Luhan. In 1911 Mildred Aldrich introduced Gertrude to Mabel Dodge Luhan and they began a short-lived but fruitful friendship which served as a catalyst to Gertrude's renown in the United States. Mabel was enthusiastic about Gertrude's sprawling The Makings of Americans and, at a time when Gertrude had much difficulty selling her writing to publishers, privately published 300 copies of Portrait of Mabel Dodge at Villa Curonia, (ibid.) a copy of which was valued at $25,000 in 2007 (James S. Jaffee Rare Books). Dodge was also involved in the publicity and planning of the 69th Armory Show in 1913, "the first avant-garde art exhibition in America." (Ibid.) In addition, she wrote the first critical analysis of Gertrude's writing to appear in America, in "Speculations, or Post-Impressionists in Prose", published in a special March 1913 publication of Arts and Decoration. (Mellow, 1974, at 170). Foreshadowing Gertrude's later critical reception, Mabel wrote in "Speculations":

"In Gertrude Stein's writing every word lives and, apart from concept, it is so exquisitely rhythmical and cadenced that if we read it aloud and receive it as pure sound, it is like a kind of sensuous music. Just as one may stop, for once, in a way, before a canvas of Picasso, and, letting one's reason sleep for an instant, may exclaim: "It is a fine pattern!" so, listening to Gertrude Steins' words and forgetting to try to understand what they mean, one submits to their gradual charm.(Ibid)"

~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~

My fascination with Gertrude Stein began in 1973, and I attempted to create a tape-loop style audio version of this material, and it didn't go very far because of the technical difficulties. Now, three-plus decades later, it's a reality! More files are added as they are completed.

The original impulse to create layered readings was an attempt to achieve a greater understanding of Stein's work, to discover what patterns would emerge. Now, layering sound files on the computer, I have seen that indeed new ways to hear the words emerge in the aggregate readings.

Stein's 'literary pointillism' reaches its full apotheosis through group readings, or the automation of the computer.

Usually the mixes are made from two readings of the same piece in different intonations; sometimes more. No filters are used on the soundfiles, and the layering is achieved in a simple wavefile-jukebox.

Even in 1913, these readings could have been performed and would have sounded much the same as they do here. The 'pointillist' pieces, such as 'Patriarchal Poetry,' sound psychedelic because that is the way Stein wrote them. Multiple voices reading the same material, out of synchronization, helps to emphasize the patterns in Stein's work. Repeated words read in multiple voices and intonations begin to sound like a field of crickets or a flight of honking geese. Seeing how Stein's work looks on the printed page helps to clarify exactly what is going on. Here is a short excerpt from 'Patriarchal Poetry":

"This shows it all next to next next to Saturday this shows it all.

This shows it all.

This shows it all next to next next to Saturday this shows it all.

Once or twice or once or twice once or twice or once or twice or once or twice this shows it all or next to next this shows it all or once or twice or once or twice or once or twice or once or twice or once or twice or once or twice this shows it all or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next or next to next this shows it all or next to next or Saturday or next to next this shows it all or next to next or next to next.

Not need near nearest.

Settle it pink with pink.

Pinkily.

Find it a time at most.

Every differs from Avery Avery differs from every within."

etc.

Just looking at the letters of the printed words looks like mottled patterns on the wings of a moth, when spoken aloud they come to life.

It would be a great project to get more people, a variety of voices to participate in live simultaneous readings. It would also be possible to do this 'virtually,' meaning people could send recordings of their readings to be combined with those of others, a project I would be delighted to facilitate. I can be reached at rafibhajan[at]gmail[dot]com

I'm offering these freely and semi-anonymously, framed as "Public Readings" - as tributes to Gertrude Stein and her incredible vision.

poetry incantation jazz language lyric poetry modernism modernist oral literature performance San Francisco renaissance sound collage poetry symbolism technology literature transcendental feminist visionary poetry women poets


Run time About 4 Hours

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